By Tiffany Meeder, Assistant to the Executive Director
Twenty-three pieces of legislation were recently added to the Child Protective Services Law (as of December 31, 2014), changing how Pennsylvania responds to child abuse. Churches and non-profits are not exempt from these laws. Has your church taken the necessary steps to ensure you’re doing what’s required by the law?
Employees and volunteers who work or will be working in direct contact with children and youth (under 18 years of age) will be required to submit documentation from the following background checks:
- Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance;
- Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check; and
- Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Background Check.
Persons who have lived in PA continuously for the last 10 years are not required to undergo the FBI Criminal Background Check, as long as they affirm in writing that they have not been convicted of a felony or sex crime within the previous five years.
Background Checks applications can all be submitted online:
- Child Abuse History Clearance: https://www.compass.state.pa.us/CWIS
- Criminal Record Check with the Pennsylvania State Police: state.pa.us/Home.jsp
If you have questions about the Pennsylvania State Police Request for Criminal Record Checks form (SP4 164), please call 1-888-783-7972.
- The fingerprint-based FBI criminal background check is a multiple step process. For more information and to begin the registration process, go to pa.cogentid.com//index_dpw.htm. For questions about your FBI Clearance, please contact the FBI/Adam Walsh Unit at 1-877-371-5422.
When volunteers come from out of state and are in PA less than 30 concurrent days, then:
- Volunteers (adult and minors) should have clearances in their home state, and
- Churches should place out-of-state volunteers with PA volunteers so if a situation arises they have a PA-resident to go to if there’s an incident. The PA-resident would then be the mandatory reporter.
The website, KeepKidsSafe.pa.gov, is designed to serve as the hub for information related to critical components impacting child protection including a link for mandated reporters to make reports of suspected child abuse electronically, training on child abuse recognition and reporting, information related to clearances and general information related to child protection.
Please contact your church liability insurance provider or email if you have questions about the Child Protective Services Law, or if you are interested in learning more.